|Minimumweight Denver "The Excitement" Cuello|
Outside the ring, Leo Santa Cruz has vacated his IBF bantamweight title to campaign at 122 pounds. He gave up his number three ranking in my divisional compilations for a number five ranking at super bantamweight. Replacing him at bantamweight is Malcolm Tunacao, who came in at number ten.
The new year is still young, but the action in the lighter weight classes is beginning to heat up with myriad world title fights on the line and numerous contenders clashing against one another.
But first, here's what the month of February produced at Bantamweights & Below:
World Class Boxing at Bantamweights & Below:
On Friday, January 25, at Wat Bannamtieng, Maha Sarakham, Thailand, Wanheng Menayothin kept active with a six round unanimous decision over Jack Amisa. Menayothin made his 2013 debut and raised his record to 26-0 (8). Amisa fell to 20-26-2 (14) losing for the twelfth consecutive time and winless since 2008. Menayothin remained my number sixth ranked strawweight, but he is in serious need of a challenge since he faced Florante Condes in 2011. His quality of opposition will be monitored to more accurately reflect his ranking amongst the best in the division. However, Menayothin figures to jump in the rankings due to attrition with Akira Yaegashi and Moises Fuentes moving up in weight for separate title shots.
On Monday, January 28, at Bangplama School, Suphan Buri, Thailand, Suriyan Sor Rungvisai won a unanimous decision over Elmar Francisco in a six-round bantamweight bout. Rungvisai won for the fourth time since moving up to bantamweight after losing his 115-pound title to Yota Sato. He elevated his record to 24-5-1 (9). Francisco fell to 16-17-2 (4). Rungvisai held onto his number six bantamweight ranking in my standings, but is in need of improved opposition if he is to advance himself toward the number one spot. With four wins between himself and his title loss to Yota Sato at 115, Rungvisai remains unranked at 118 as of this month. He should be nearing a title shot against fellow Thai-fighter, and WBO titlist, Pungluang Sor Singyu if common sense were applied to boxing.
On Saturday, February 9, at Arena Itson, Ciudad Obregon, Sonora, Mexico, Julio Ceja remained unbeaten with a fifth round KO over Henry Maldonado in a bantamweight bout. Ceja improved his dossier 24-0 (22). Maldonado fell to 16-2 (11). Ceja retained his number eight bantamweight ranking in my divisional ladder. Ceja is rumored to be heading toward a match-up with Jamie McDonnell for the IBF bantamweight title recently vacated by Leo Santa Cruz. The number three and number one contenders, respectively, would be heading into their first title fights. The IBF's number two spot is vacant.
Also on this card, Kompayak Porpramook moved up to flyweight full-time and scored a third round TKO over Narongnoy Patanakan Gym. The former WBC 108-pound champion raised his record to 49-4 (34). The little known Patanakan Gym has a documented record of 0-2. Porpramook was previously ranked fourth at 108 pounds, but has yet to crack my flyweight standings.
Also on this date, at Emperor's Palace, Kempton Park, Gautang, South Africa, Hekkie Budler decisioned Renan Trongco in a twelve round minimumweight bout. Budler received winning scores of 118-110 and 117-111 twice. Budler's resume improved to 22-1 (6). Trongco fell to 12-4 (8). Budler remained ranked number eight among my top minimumweights. With solid wins over Florante Condes, Michael Landero, and Juanito Rubillar twice, the number three ranked WBC contender's title shot might just be on the horizon.
Bantamweights & Below Featured Rankings: Minimumweight (105 lbs. or below)
1. Denver Cuello ~ Philippines ~ 32-4-6 (21)
2. Moises Fuentes ~ Mexico ~ 16-1-0 (8) ~ WBO
3. Mario Rodriguez ~ Mexico ~ 15-6-4 (11) ~ IBF
4. Akira Yaegashi ~ Japan ~ 16-3-0 (9)
5. Nkosinathi Joyi ~ South Africa ~ 23-1-0 (16)
6. Wanheng Menayothin ~ Thailand ~ 26-0-0 (8)
7. Juan Hernandez ~ Mexico ~ 20-2-0 (14)
8. Hekkie Budler ~ South Africa ~ 22-1-0 (6)
9. Carlos Buitrago ~ Nicaragua ~ 24-0-0 (15)
10. Xiong Zhao Zhong ~ China ~ 20-4-1 (11) ~ WBC
* Both Fuentes and Yaegashi have signed world title fights at 108 and 112 pounds respectively. Fuentes has yet to vacate his title. It is unclear whether each man will return to 105 if they are met with a negative result in their upcoming bouts.
Bantamweights & Below: On the Horizon
On Wednesday, February 27, at Todoroki Arena, Kawasaki, Kanagawa, Japan, Juan Carlos Reveco, 29-1 (16), will defend his WBA flyweight title against Masayuki Kuroda, 31-3-2 (13), in a twelve round bout.
On March 2, in Windhoek, Namibia, Pungluang Sor Singyu, 43-1 (28), will make the first defense of his WBO bantamweight title against Paulus Moses, 19-0 (10) in a twelve rounder.
Also on this date, in Mexico, Mexico, Carlos Cuadras, 27-0 (22), will take on Victor Zaleta, 20-3-1 (10), in a twelve round bout. Also on March 2, at Cebu Waterfront Hotel and Casino, Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, Cebu, Philippines, Donnie Nietes, 31-1-3 (17), will battle Moises Fuentes, 16-1 (8), in a twelve round WBO light flyweight title bout.
On March 8, in Accra, Ghana, Joseph Agbeko, 28-4 (22), will make his return to the ring after over a year off when he meets Luis Melendez, 34-8-1 (25), over twelve rounds.
On March 9, in Mexico, Ulises Solis, 35-2-3 (22), will meet Edgars Sosa, 47-7 (28), for the third time as a professional in a twelve round bout. Ulises Solis has been removed from the junior flyweight division to campaign at flyweight. He has not been ranked at 112-pounds at this time. Replacing them at junior flyweight are Alberto Rossel, who re-emerged at number nine. Luis Alberto Rios filled the ten spot.
On March 16, Megapolis Convention Center, Panama City, Panama, John Riel Casimero, 17-2 (10), will meet Luis Alberto Rios, 18-1-1 (13), in a twelve round IBF light flyweight title fight. Also on this date, at Coliseo Miguel Grau, Collao, Peru, Alberto Rossel, 29-8 (13), will defend his interim WBA light flyweight title against Walter Tello, 18-6 (7), over twelve rounds.
Denver "The Excitement" Cuello, also known as Cuello D. Singwancha, just might be the boxer most deserving of a title shot in the whole sport of boxing. Cuello, my number one 105-pounder, is ranked in the top three by the WBC, IBF, and WBO. The excellent Kazuto Ioka gave up his titles to head North seemingly to avoid meeting the Filipino fireplug.
Outside of a disqualification loss he was winning, Cuello has not tasted defeat since June of 2006. In that time, he has built his record to 32-4-6 (21) and recorded big stoppage wins over Muhammad Rachman and Ganigan Lopez, whom previously held long standing rankings in my divisional ladder. The Lopez fight was supposed to be an eliminator for a WBC title fight, but Cuello stood by to watch Xiong Zhao Zhong make history as he become China's first world champion with a WBC title win over Javier Martinez Resindez. Cuello is expected to return on March 23 against an opponent to be named.
Written by Derek "DBO" Bonnett exclusively for KO Digest